The City of Sydney has raised the bar on its renewable energy and climate targets, with the release of a new five-year plan that targets 50 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
Released on Tuesday, the Environmental Action 2016–2021 plan builds on the City’s already ambitious long-term program – including a 70 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 – taking into account advances in renewables technology and the global climate commitments made in Paris last December.
According to reports, to meet the new targets, the City is considering replicating a City of Melbourne scheme under which the council, businesses and residents group together to sponsor large-scale renewable energy projects.
A Sydney City Council spokesperson told RenewEconomy on Tuesday that no tenders had been launched in connection with the new policy, and that any such tenders – or dedicated grant funding – would be deferred until after the draft plan’s period of public exhibition from 30 June to 12 August.
The new plan commits to shorter-term targets in energy, water, climate adaptation, waste, transport and “greening”, based on a range of goals set for between now and 2021, and includes plans to incentivise Sydney’s first net zero emissions buildings; develop an energy retrofit program for residential apartment buildings; give a $10 million boost to local renewable energy development; engineer a waste to energy strategy for the city and foster recycled water schemes.
The City’s plan will also advocate specific actions by state and federal governments, including higher legislated targets for water and energy, higher environmental standards for urban renewal precincts, water pricing adjustments to protect the viability of water recycling, and a national rule change to make electricity cheaper and cleaner and encourage more local generation.
“World leaders agreed to limit global temperature rise to less than 2°C at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris last year,” said Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore in a statement on Tuesday.
“After eight years of progress, it’s time for us to raise the bar by consolidating the City’s excellent environmental work and setting targets and actions for coming years.
So far, Sydney has already retrofitted 45 of its properties to reduce electricity and water use and generate operational savings of over $1 million a year; and has solar PV on 40 City-owned buildings.
It has also replaced 6,604 street lights with more efficient LEDs, marked a zero increase in emissions from its fleet of vehicles since 2014, and harvested and treated 590 million litres of stormwater through a water reuse system at Sydney Park.
Moore said the new plan had been developed with input from leading business and property organisations, including the Property Council of Australia, Energy Efficiency Council, Green Building Council Australia.
The state government’s Department of Planning and Environment and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage had also had input, as did regular Sydneysiders, the vast majority of which support more ambitious environmental targets.
“When developing Sustainable Sydney 2030, more than 90 per cent of Sydneysiders told us they wanted action on climate change,” Moore said.
“We set ambitious but achievable targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 and we’ve been busy getting on with the job. Through planning, investment and hard work we’re making significant progress.
“The City is Australia’s first carbon-neutral government and has already reduced emissions in our own buildings and operations by 27 per cent. Greenhouse gas emissions in our local area have fallen by 19 per cent since 2006, while our economy has grown 27 per cent – one of the strongest in the country.
“Cities are on the front line in the fight against climate change and we will continue to work hard to ensure Sydney is one of the world’s leading green cities,” she said.